The current study examines how varying fan identification of a niche, violent sport, mixed martial arts (mma), and the sport’s leading organization, Ultimate Fighting Championship (ufc), can impact pleasure, involvement, and, more importantly, self-reported arousal and physiological arousal. An experiment measuring pleasure and two types of arousal (self-report and physiological response) supports previous facets of fan identification theory while adding insight concerning fans’ and nonfans’ physiological response to a violent sport. The results of the study show that increased fan identification is a strong predictor for all ufc-related consumption, involvement, pleasure, and self-reported arousal. However, results reveal differences between physiological arousal based on one’s level of fan identification—but not in the same direction as self-reported arousal, contrary to what previous studies have suggested. Low-identified fans displayed higher levels of physiological arousal than highly identified fans, suggesting that the novelty or arousing nature of the sport supersedes arousal induced from high levels of fan identity. Conclusions regarding the impact of fan identification’s effect on the individual are offered.


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pp. 159-185
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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